How to improve air quality in your home

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There’s no place like home, but pollutants from leftover cooking, allergens, dander, and other debris may degrade your indoor air quality.

The good news is cleaning the air in your home doesn’t just help your allergies, it may also help reduce airborne pathogens. Follow these tips to improve your home's indoor air quality and create a more comfortable living space.

1. Clean regularly

Cleaning your room isn’t just a good habit your parents taught you. Regularly cleaning your home can minimise dirt, dander, and indoor particles that can make you sick or cause allergies.

Here are a few simple things you can do to fight indoor air pollution.

Dust, sweep, and vacuum

Keep your floors and surfaces clean in your home by dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming regularly. If you have pets, dander can collect even faster and leave your family and guests sniffling and sneezing.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter that will capture and reduce debris collected in rugs, carpets, and floors. HEPA, or High-Efficiency Particulate Air, filters can trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns (for reference, that’s smaller than a red blood cell).

The more tiny particles you can remove from the air in your home, the cleaner the air will be.

Clean air filters

Get in the habit of regularly replacing your furnace filters, vacuum filters, and air purifier filters—or cleaning washable filters.

Furnace filters should be replaced every 3 months or so—more often if you have pets, allergies, or regularly track in dust and dirt from outside. I like to get reminders from Amazon Alexa—just say, "Alexa, remind me to change the furnace filter every three months." Magic. 

Vacuum filters can be replaced on a regular schedule too or whenever they appear soiled. Most air purifiers have a status light that turns red when your filter needs to be replaced or cleaned. Don't ignore it—buy some filters to have on hand and take care of it right away. You'll literally breathe easier. 

Wash your linens and sheets 

Dust mites, dead skin cells, and all kinds of icky stuff can hide in your bedsheets. Washing your linens, curtains, and other fabric throughout your house can keep them fresh and free of debris.

Aim for washing temperatures of 60°C and up. You can also find dust mite-proof pillow cases and bedding that can make the job easier.

Store shoes carefully

Tracking dirt in the house can add to air pollutants in your carpets and rugs. Store your shoes in a closet or on a rack where you can keep the dirt contained.

Then wipe the shoe rack down and vacuum the space at least once a month to keep the area clean.

Remove old food 

There’s no need to hang on to old produce or any perishable food past its prime. Mould growing in your fridge or cabinets can affect the air in your kitchen and the rest of your home.

The good news is, you can prevent food waste by planning your meals ahead, eating out less, or buying groceries in smaller portions.

2. Let in fresh air

Proper ventilation is a big part of maintaining good air quality inside your house. It pushes out pollutants and “bad” air and brings in fresh air.

Check your vents 

If you have ducted air and heating, be sure to check the ventilation throughout your home and wipe down the vents every three months to keep dust from collecting and spreading through your home.

For both ducted and split-system air units, getting a professional service done once a year is recommended to extend the life of the unit and maintain good air quality.

You can also add fans to rooms throughout your home to keep the air inside moving. Just be sure to clean them. Ceiling and pedestal fans are a favourite habitat of dust bunnies.

Open a window or use the screen door

Let your house breathe. You can reduce indoor air pollutants by simply increasing the amount of outdoor air coming inside.

Use an air purifier 

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Air purifiers help boost air circulation throughout your house.

If you have multiple pets or severe allergies, adding an air purifier to your clean air arsenal can help all year round.

Air purifiers can clean the air in one or multiple rooms, depending on the type you choose. We like the Philips Series 1000.

3. Minimise indoor pollutants

There are a variety of indoor pollutants that can affect the air quality in your home. Some come from us, like secondhand smoke and many volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Others, like carbon monoxide, may be naturally occurring. Luckily, there are ways to reduce these dangerous particles.

Avoid aerosols

You’ve probably heard that aerosols are bad for the environment. So why should you use them in your home? For products like deodorant, hair sprays, and cleaners, look for alternatives that don’t use an aerosol application.

Use ventilation when cooking 

You may love cooking with gas, but the unfortunate truth is that gas stoves can be terrible for your home's air quality.

Before you start cooking, clean off your stove or range to avoid releasing old baked-on particles into the air. Oil, dust, and old food residue may release into the air when heated.

If you have a range hood, use it any time you use the stove or oven. If not, use the back burners closest to the range vents to suck up any particles released during your time cooking.

Use carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide is more than a pollutant—it’s a killer. This colourless, odourless gas is released by burning carbon fuel like those from your stove or home gas line.

Be sure to maintain your carbon monoxide detector with fresh batteries and update it every ten years.

CO detectors don’t improve indoor air quality on their own, but they’ll alert you to any problems like gas leaks in your home and pass the baton to you.

4. Form good habits

Maintaining good air quality in your home requires regular work. So it’s best to start by forming a few habits that keep the air clean in your home.

Avoid smoking or vaping indoors

While smoking tobacco and vaping have been banned indoors in most public areas, they can still pose problems in homes.

Tobacco smoke can cause health issues in children and adults—think respiratory problems, ear infections, and heart disease. Secondhand smoke can stay on walls, windows, and surfaces throughout the house long after the tobacco is gone.

If you’re a smoker or use an electronic cigarette, be sure to go outside before you use it. That will keep the air cleaner inside for you and everyone you live with.

Monitor your air quality

Watching the air quality in your home will help you stay on top of your cleaning and treatment. An air quality monitor can check the humidity, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the air in your home.

Close the lid when you flush

Ever heard of toilet flumes? Flushing the toilet can release waste particles into the air in your bathroom (ew). It’s gross, but true. To avoid this, get in the habit of closing the lid before you flush the toilet.

Choose beeswax candles

If you want to mask any odours in the bathroom, consider using a beeswax candle. They emit less smoke than standard candles and can make your bathroom smell much better after visits.

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Indoor air quality FAQs

A number of things can contribute to poor indoor air quality (like dust, allergens, and smoke). But what solidifies poor indoor air quality is bad circulation and build up of particles.

You can find air quality monitors for your home that will show you things like humidity, volatile organic compounds, temperature, and an overall air quality index.

The air you breathe circulates throughout your body. So it isn’t just your lungs, nose, and throat that feel it. Although the obvious effects of poor air quality include asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, it can also affect your circulatory system and heart health.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire

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